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SAL Science & Stories No. 12 / July 2020
  1. New Research Unit "Edge Computing" starts working in Graz
  2. Spotlight on Machine Learning and Embedded AI
  3. Check out our High-Tech Cleanroom
  4. Future Trends of Power Electronics
  5. Webinar: Create reliable vehicle power electronics through virtual development
  6. Paper: On the Feasibility of Fan-Out Wafer-Level Packaging of Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasound Transducers (CMUT) by Using Inkjet-Printed Redistribution Layers
  7. Project call for cooperative research: Smart Respiratory Mask
  8. Project call for cooperative research: Wafer Conditioning for Controlled Surface Roughness Distribution
  9. SAL Retreat to refine research strategy
  10. Save the Dates: SAL Roadshow
A message from Gerald Murauer, Executive Director of SAL

In order to grow SAL to a top research center for EBS, we need well-trained experts from multiple disciplines of science, engineering and technology. In order to find top talent, we recruit internationally and bring "Brain Gain" to Austria. Around 40 per cent of our employees are from other countries (European countries and overseas). Our researchers come from all over the world - from A as from Algeria to V as from Vietnam. This diversity enables us to work on innovative projects and grow not only as a research center but also as a team. In this newsletter, we want to show you what our international team is capable of.

New Research Unit "Edge Computing" starts working in Graz

Andras Montvay Since July 1st, András Montvay is heading the new Research Unit Edge Computing & Distributed SW in Graz, joining SAL with more than 20 years of experience in industrial R&D and leadership in consumer, medical and automotive fields, and expertise in embedded systems and SW, quality of service in resource-constrained systems and codesign for real-time applications.

The vision for the new research unit is to enable real-world IoT and Industry 4.0 applications by embedding edge computing into the EBS value-chain, in the close collaboration with other SAL units like Sensor Applications, Microsystem Technologies or Embedded AI. 
The aim of the research unit is to build a bridge between the scientific world of formal methods, models and design principles on the one hand, and the industry demands for short time-to-market and efficient system development on the other. The basis for this will be our competence in HW/SW partitioning and architectures from component to system level, a strong focus on non-functional criteria and constraints from testability and maintainability to security, energy consumption and availability, and the provisioning of the necessary development ecosystem consisting of e.g. frameworks, standards or middleware architectures.

One strong pillar for these activities will be our collaboration with the TU Graz in the Dependable Electronic Sytems Lab (DESLab). Our application focus will be on truly embedded and resource-constrained systems, concrete application fields are under definition but may e.g. include sensor arrays, industry 4.0, microsystems applications or medical systems. We are currently building up a team, with several senior experts in distributed design and verification of electronic systems, security of embedded devices and AI already on board respectively joining within the next few months, and a further strong growth planned for the future.

Spotlight on Machine Learning and Embedded AI

Our research unit Embedded AI (eAI) is moti­vated by the mega­trend of things getting smart, connected and energy sustain­able. Moving AI from cloud to the edge and hence embedded systems will be a key enabler and cata­lyst for this ­trend. The research unit brings together scientific top talent from lateral fields, such as signal processing, wireless communications, theoretic and applied physics and mathematics to lift Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence out of the "alchemy phase". Our eAI unit also profits from SAL's diversity, with members coming from India, Spain and Austria.
Machine Learning
The Embedded AI research unit currently works on various projects: The goal for the project "ML for Control Design", for instance, is to investigate novel approaches for artificial intelligence controlled power electronics. In particular, we focus on power factor correction (PFC) circuits being controlled by a deep reinforcement learning agent in order to minimize reactive power consumption and regulating the output voltage at certain setpoint whilst adapting to varying load conditions and device characteristics.

The project "FEMApp" aims at bringing the benefits and flexibility of machine learning techniques to the world of Multiphysics simulations in a completely novel manner. We will develop an artificial neural network and train it to accurately approximate the results of physics simulation for electronic systems, but in a fraction of the time. This will simplify the complete analysis of electronic designs, which consider not only circuit simulations but also the simulation of the thermal and electromagnetic interaction of the different components, packaging, etc.

The inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach of our researchers within and beyond re­search areas enables them to not only push enabling tech­nolo­gies to next levels, but even more impor­tantly allows them to truly embrace chal­lenges from various appli­ca­tion fields. Our researchers find and master research challenges in Sensor Systems, Radio Frequency and Power Electronics and together bring innovation to Industry.

Check out our High-Tech Cleanroom

In Villach, we have 300 square meters of ISO-5 cleanroom. In our latest video, Mohssen Moridi, Head of Research Unit Microsystem Technologies (MST), talks about the importance of such facilities, what we work on and why these technologies are important for the future. Microsys­tems make prod­ucts not only smaller and more powerful, but also more effi­cient, smarter and multi­func­tional. As a result, industry-wide inno­va­tion poten­tials are avail­able for compa­nies to strengthen and expand their posi­tion on the world markets. 

Together with his MST team, Mohssen Moridi aims to find and develop novel solu­tions for MEMS devices from design and proof of concept to proto­type of the product in close collab­o­ra­tion with our part­ners.
Cleanroom Video

Future Trends of Power Electronics

Rudolf Krall Rudolf Krall, Head of Research Division Power Electronics, gave a talk on "Future Trends of Power Electronic" where he discussed opportunities and challenges of future power electronic systems. 

Power electronic systems are finding an ever-wider field of application. Furthermore, expectations on efficiency, compactness, reliability and dynamics are constantly increasing. In each of these areas the use of wideband gap semiconductors opens up new opportunities and possibilities but also brings with it completely new challenges. In his talk, he covered the essential aspects of today's and tomorrow's power electronics, from the semiconductor to the system as well as new 3D heterogeneous integration possibilities, holistic simulation approaches and lifetime and aging issues.

Webinar: Create reliable vehicle power electronics through virtual development

To tackle the engineering challenges of automotive power electronics design, adopting an effective simulation toolbox is crucial. Together with Juergen Schneider from AVL, Christian Mentin (Power Electronics) held a free webinar on this topic and discussed how designs can be tested and optimized in virtual environments before and during real-world implementation.

Key topics and takeaways:
  • Understand the challenges that power electronics face in e-mobility, and why the industry demands new solutions to support fast charging and high efficiency
  • AVL Simulation Suite enables a holistic virtual testing approach encompasing all vehicle components in realistic driving simulations
  • Model-based development is decisive to reach the full potential of new technologies and concepts
  • High-fidelity multiphysics simulation plays an important role in the effort to simultaneously increase power density and reliability
  • An electrothermal co-simulation use case shows how to obtain the accurate insights needed for advanced system design
Watch free webinar

Paper: On the Feasibility of Fan-Out Wafer-Level Packaging of Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasound Transducers (CMUT) by Using Inkjet-Printed Redistribution Layers
Micromachines Ali Roshangias, Senior Scientist at SAL, wrote a paper "On the Feasibility of Fan-Out Wafer-Level Packaging of Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasound Transducers (CMUT) by Using Inkjet-Printed Redistribution Layers", which was now published in Micromachines. 

Fan-out wafer-level packaging (FOWLP) is an interesting platform for Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensor packaging. Employing FOWLP for MEMS sensor packaging has some unique challenges, while some originate merely from the fabrication of redistribution layers (RDL). For instance, it is crucial to protect the delicate structures and fragile membranes during RDL formation. Thus, additive manufacturing (AM) for RDL formation seems to be an auspicious approach, as those challenges are conquered by principle. In this study, by exploiting the benefits of AM, RDLs for fan-out packaging of capacitive micromachined ultrasound transducers were realized via drop-on-demand inkjet printing technology. 

Read more

Project call for cooperative research: Smart Respiratory Mask

Masks of the type FFP2 or FFP3 achieve their protec­tive effect, among other things, through mechan­ical filter effects. Storage times, washing processes for multiple use as well as wear or mechan­ical defects lead to impair­ment of the filter effect. As part of this re­search project, a sensor system that enables wire­less elec­tronic moni­toring of the filter func­tion is being devel­oped. This increases user secu­rity and reduces costs through opti­mized use.

Partner call open until July 2020

Start of the project: July 2020

Contact: contact@silicon-austria.com

Read more

Project call for cooperative research: Wafer Conditioning for Controlled Surface Roughness Distribution

The goal of the project is to develop a reli­able process for controlled surface rough­ness modi­fi­ca­tion on silicon wafers. The target is to be able to actively control the distri­b­u­tion of the pits on top of the silicon wafers so that homo­ge­neous and patterned distri­b­u­tion is possible.

Partner call open until July 2020

Start of the project: Q3 2020

Contact: contact@silicon-austria.com

Read more

SAL Retreat to refine research strategy
In the beginning of July, Gerald Murauer invited the SAL management, the Heads of Research Units and Enterprise Functions to a 2.5 day retreat to talk about the research strategy, goals for the next years and the special USPs of SAL. Through presentations, lively group-works and fruitful discussions, the participants learned more about the others' research foci and the overall direction for SAL. 
SAL Retreat

Save the Dates: SAL Roadshow
We are travelling through Austria to meet YOU! If your company works along the value chain of Electronic Based Systems, you are cordially invited to learn more about SAL, our research foci and competences. 

Upcoming dates:
  • September 17, Graz
  • October 22, Klagenfurt
  • November 18, Linz

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